Greetings From the Land of High Explosives

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For serious Independence Day commentary, scroll down to Scott’s post titled “The Eternal Meaning of Independence Day.” I’m reporting, unseriously, from my native state of South Dakota, where we go most years to celebrate the Fourth. This is partly because I have family here, and partly because the kids like to blow things up.

As a boy, I spent a good part of every summer playing with explosives–legal firecrackers like Zebras and Black Cats, and Cherry Bombs and Silver Salutes, which were more or less contraband but easily available. Nowadays, in a nanny state like Minnesota, such experiences are no longer available to the young. Sparklers were only recently legalized in Minnesota. How lame is that?

So it’s always exciting to walk into a fireworks emporium nearly the size of the Metrodome, bursting with every kind of incendiary device. Yesterday, the store was crowded with shoppers pushing carts. No doubt these were people who had already set off their first batch or two, and needed to replenish for the holiday. We bought a cart full of fireworks of various descriptions, but the key purchase was a reloadable mortar and twelve shells. In South Dakota, a private citizen can put on a display that rivals that produced by many towns.

Last night, we set off part of our haul at my brother’s house on the same lake where we spent summers as children. At the close of the evening, we fired up the mortar and shot three shells into the sky–one of probably thirty or forty such displays that were visible around the lake. Forget about madeline cakes–there is nothing that evokes nostalgia for days gone by like the smell of a burning punk!

This afternoon, we’ll watch a small town Independence Day parade, then it’s back to the lake for more fireworks tonight.

SCOTT adds: Last week our friends at the New York Sun published a spirited editorial opposing New York’s fireworks ban: “Bonfires and illuminations.”

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